Elgar Law, Technology and Society series
Edited by Sean A. Pager and Adam Candeub
Chapter 17: Protecting and Promoting National Cultures in a World Where Bits Want to Flow Freely
Sang Yup Lee and Steven S. Wildman 17.1 INTRODUCTION While it might be difficult to demonstrate empirically, the proposition that media play critical roles in nurturing and disseminating a nation’s domestic culture is perhaps too obvious to be plausibly disputed. Not surprisingly, media feature prominently in proposals for policies intended to promote and protect national cultures. The protectionist components of such proposals are typically responses to concerns that imported media products might dilute or in other ways undermine domestic culture by displacing indigenous works on domestic media outlets. While even the most ardent cultural protectionists would not advocate hermetically sealing a nation’s borders against content with foreign origins, the possibility that market forces operating on their own might result in the importation of too much of a good thing must be accepted as a valid policy concern. Identifying causes for concern and designing policies that effectively address these concerns are very different things, however. In this chapter we offer a closer look at the economic context in which policies for cultural protection and promotion must be implemented, and examine the implications for the design of cultural promotion policies. The chapter is organized as follows. Section 17.2 presents recent data on the international motion picture trade to illustrate the character of the international media flows that have been the source of so much concern to cultural protectionists outside the United States (US). In section 17.3 we review the debate over the reasons for imbalanced flows of media products from the US...
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